The first sound I hear in the morning is the swaying of palm trees and the soft chirp of cardinals—it’s heaven. I was born and raised in South Florida, so these sounds are not new to me, but I did swap them out for the blaring horns and city soundtrack of New York City for 15 years, which makes coming home all that much sweeter. When my husband and I decided to relocate back to South Florida with our then 2-year old daughter, Olive, Delray Beach was our target. It has always been a hub for the creative set, plus it offers the ability to live close to the beach and a fantastic downtown. After all, I traded in my metro card for a custom-made golf cart; and that is where my day starts….on Woody (yes, that’s my golf cart’s name).
I’m a working artist and mom, so after dropping my daughter at school, I head straight for my favorite coffee shop. We have some excellent options to choose from, like the Colombian Coffee House for pandebono and a cortado, or Deke’s for a classic Italian roast. Today I’m heading to my go-to, Two FatbrEGGfast, for a whipped iced coffee and an everything croissant.
Then I’m off to my art studio at Arts Warehouse, my home away from home. Arts Warehouse houses 15 working artist studios, a front gallery featuring excellent South-Florida based and international exhibitions, plus a large venue space in the rear where events and workshops take place. It’s a hub of inspiration and I have met an incredible community of artists here. Arts Warehouse is open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so come by and say hi, check out our latest studio experiments and creations, or tour the front gallery’s exhibition. It never disappoints. If you’re hungry for a snack, pop into Bedner’s Market for fresh produce, drinks, and treats. Their beautiful working farm out west also hosts great events and tours, plus strawberry picking!
After a few hours of art making at the studio, it’s time to clear my mind and process creative ideas. I do this through meditative walking and connecting to nature. Our gorgeous beach would be an obvious choice, but today I have something else in mind, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Their 16 acres of Japanese gardens, strolling paths, and impressive lakes are pure MAGIC, not to mention their world-class bonsai collection. Master Garden Designer Hoichi Kurisu’s statement says it all: “My hope is that visitors will let the gardens speak to them of timeless truths and rhythms which can provide therapeutic insights for today.” This is exactly the magic that Morikami provides to me and my family. And so, after some good “forest bathing” and creative processing, I head back to the downtown area, with a quick pit stop at the new Andre Design District to chat with my friend, sculptor, and painter, Jeff Wyman. Thanks to some quality art talk and a walkthrough of his new studio space, my cup is full and it’s time to eat!
Tonight, I’m meeting up with some girlfriends at my favorite restaurant, The Grove. When we relocated from NYC, on my wish list was a local restaurant worthy of the city’s critics, and I found a gem in The Grove. Tonight we’re eating on the bar side under the awesome Filio Galvez mural, and I’m imbibing on their seasonal menu of squash blossoms, beef carpaccio, and a kale apple salad.
Feeling more than satisfied, we decided to take a short stroll down Pineapple Grove Arts District to Arts Garage. Tonight is Comedy Night, and if you know me, you know I love to laugh. It’s good for the soul. Arts Garage (not to be confused with the Arts Warehouse where my studio is located) is a music and performing arts venue that has a robust calendar of entertainment from jazz to pop musicians, and even open poetry night. If you love live music, Delray is your town and Arts Garage is your destination for entertainment.
Alas, an evening on the town is not complete without a stop at Whit’s. Have you heard of this treasure? If not, welcome to frozen custard heaven. Tonights flavor is Fluffer Nutter Cookie, one of my favorites, but I couldn’t resist the classic Whittie – vanilla frozen custard sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. Divine!
This is where my day in Delray concludes. I hope you enjoyed the tour, and will come visit me and fellow artists at Arts Warehouse sometime soon. Inspiration is everywhere in this city, and if you open all of your senses, I promise you’ll see, hear, taste and feel something special. And, if you spot a green golf cart with wood paneling cruising down Atlantic Ave., give us a wave—that’s me…and Woody!
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Renee Phillips is an artist based in Delray Beach. As a process-based artist inspired by Earth’s ever-changing surface tensions, she explores the manipulation of paint, and layering of color, to achieve sculptural like results that droop, ripple, crack and pool on the canvas. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach.